A Monster Who Levels Up
(This extra chapter is brought to you by these heroic defenders of humanity: Jan B, Keneth P, Tevin T, Jona D, Valentino W, and Arvin S. Thank you for your donations!!)
Two days later, Kim Sae-Jin headed to the local post office in the afternoon to collect the money for the sabre he submitted to the Blacksmiths tournament.
He entertained the idea of showing up proudly but then decided to go while wearing a hood and a robe. He figured that if his identity was discovered, it would cause quite a bit of inconvenience for him. After all, the method he used to craft his weapons was definitely out of common sense and therefore not something he could show to other people.
"Yes. The confirmation…. has been completed."
As soon as Sae-Jin entered the correct identification password, the post office worker behind the counter handed over a tightly sealed box. Even during all that, the worker tried his best to take a peek at Sae-Jin’s face without getting noticed. Most likely because of the word ‘ORK’ written on the box.
Since he found the actions of the worker bothersome, Sae-Jin hastily escaped the post office and returned home.
After sitting down on the sofa and opening the sealed box, he found that there was only a single envelope stored inside.
Inside the envelope, he found a cheque with enough zeroes to make him mutter out in shock, as well as a letter written with sincerity and care. (TL: unfortunately, the pun here is lost during translation. "Urk" actually serves two distinct purposes here, one of shocked proclamation, as well as a term to denote a certain amount of money in Korea. 1 "Urk" Won = around $88000 US.)
[To Sir Honourable Blacksmith, The Orc’s Forge K.
Good day to you, sir. My name is Yu Sae-Jung, a low Mid Tier Knight from the Dawn Knights Order. Normally, it’s only a correct etiquette to greet you in person but you, the Honourable Blacksmith has requested to remain anonymous. Therefore, I hereby write to you these handful of words even though it can potentially become an irritant to you.
Firstly, we at the Dawn Knights Order wishes to purchase the weapon sent in by you, the Honourable Blacksmith, the Hotly Burning Flame Sabre. Once more, we are truly grateful for your unceasing toil and unrelenting effort to create such an amazingly useful product.
With my limited scope of understanding, I can’t even begin to fathom the lengths of anguish, agony and zeal you had to go through in order to craft such a weapon.
And that’s why we at the Dawn Knights Order and the Dawn Corporation dares to suggest to you a certain proposition.
If you, the Honourable Blacksmith wishes to continue with the crafting and selling of your products in the future, may we dare to ask for your opinion if it’s possible for us to gift you a small present, a smithy that has taken after your name, The Orc’s Forge?
Of course, we solemnly promise that all the rights to the smithy will be handed over to you, and will never interfere with its administration. Only that, we would be grateful if you, the Honourable Blacksmith thinks of us, the Dawn Knights Order every now and then, as we only wish to make the road ahead for the remarkably talented personage such as yourself as smooth and trouble-free as possible.
Please, give it your deep consideration, and give us a correspondence to the address I’ve written below.
– The low Mid Tier Knight from the Dawn Order, Yu Sae-Jung.]
It was a sincerely written letter from Yu Sae-Jung. He scratched the top of his head, wondering what he should do about this complication of fate.
‘It sure would be nice if I had a smithy of my own.’
He fell into a deep thought, while his gaze alternated between the letter and the cheque.
The difference between the Mid Tier and an upper Mid Tier.
There was seemingly only a difference of a single word but in truth, the gap between the two was actually enormous. The best example was the upper Mid Tier Monsters. As they possessed something called the ‘special abilities’, the creatures ranked upper Mid Tier, on average, were 20 times stronger than the Monsters of Mid Tier range.
And that was why, for both the Knight and the Hunters, they had to fulfil a specific and difficult criteria compared to before in order to rank up to upper Mid Tier.
"From the upper Mid Tier ranking upwards, a Hunter must compete in the Mid Tier Hunters Leaderboard, and you must belong to a Society, as well as have a recommendation from a Knights Order."
At the Monster Store, the clerk handed over a sheet of paper and spoke.
⸢Republic of Korea’s Mid Tier Hunters Leaderboard⸥
1st place: Ryu Seung-Han, 3309 points.
2nd place: Kim Cho-Raeng-Yi, 3219 points
332nd place: *Kim Sae-Jin, 989 points.
"Oh, and when you’ve become an upper Mid Tier Hunter, your ranking in the Leaderboard will be accessible to the public like the one for the Knights."
Sae-Jin nodded his head while looking somewhat bewildered.
Actually, he was panicking slightly, too. He came here to sell off the Monster materials but this clerk suddenly began butting in without a prompt from anyone.
"…My ranking is pretty low, though?"
But, when he saw that his placing was only 332nd, his competitive spirit began to rise up inside.
"Eh? Oh… That’s plenty high enough, actually. The number one ranked Mister Ryu Seung-Hahn is a veteran of thirteen years, and the 2nd place Mister Kim Cho-Raeng-Yi also has spent eight years as a Hunter. But Mister Sae-Jin has been a Hunter for only half a year, so it’s re~ally a high position, honestly speaking."
"Okay, fine. But why is there a * in front of my name?"
"That’s to denote a ‘rookie’. It’s to mark a person who hasn’t been a Hunter for more than a year. Including Mister Sae-Jin, you, there are only two such persons within the ranks of the Mid Tiers."
Sae-Jin scratched his chin and agonised a little.
"What’s a ‘Society’? Is that like being affiliated with a Knights Order?"
"No, it’s not. It’ll be easier to think of it as a gathering of people, who can hunt together, and enjoy a meal together afterwards. You can form one with anyone, really, and not just with other Hunters; and there are no strict procedures to follow, either. All you need is the agreement of the participants. Would you like a registration form?"
"Hmm… What’s the minimum number to form a Society?"
"Well, including the person registering, three. The maximum is 30."
Two others…. He could think of a couple of people.
Actually, he only knew two people personally, and that was the extent of his personal connections.
Hazeline and Yu Sae-Jung.
Now that he thought about it, even though the number was pretty low and thus nothing to brag about, the quality of those connections was just too damn amazing.
"…So, in order to advance to the upper Mid Tier, you are saying that I must form a Society, is that right?"
"Yes. It’s one of the prerequisites. Having a recommendation from a Knights Order will be good as well."
"Alright. I understand."
He took the Society registration form and headed home.
One afternoon with clear sunlight pouring down, Hazeline personally came to visit Sae-Jin in his home.
She strode into the house with an energetic smile and her eyes arching into half moon shapes.
"This is a nice house."
"Please take a seat first. Lemme have a look at the curse."
She sat down first on the couch and patted the spot next to her vigorously while calling for Sae-Jin.
Sae-Jin sat down promptly next to her, and rolled up the sleeve of his left arm. The arm dyed in black, thanks to the curse, was revealed to her eyes.
"It’s pretty serious. No wonder the other Wizard guy ran off after seeing this."
Hazeline spoke with a serious expression.
"But no need to worry any more, I’m here now."
Hazeline immediately began the purification spell. Right away, he mistook the blinding light as a miniature sun rising in front of him. That’s how overwhelmingly bright it was, completely inundating everything with whiteness.
It was well past being warm and into being scalding hot. He felt like his entire arm was being burnt away along with the curse.
"It’s done. You’ll be back to normal in six hours or so."
The purification only needed three minutes. Hazeline grinned refreshingly in satisfaction at Sae-Jin who was carrying a confused expression.
"Now then, I shall be on my way. I’m way too busy~"
"Oh, wait a second, please."
Sae-Jin hastily reached out and grasped the wrist of Hazeline, who was just about to leave. Suddenly touched like this, Hazeline snatched her hand away much faster than she realised.
"Wha, what do you think you’re doing?"
She rubbed the wrist and became alert towards him. It might have seem as a over-the-top reaction, but Sae-Jin who was already well versed in rejection, hastily raised his hands and showed that he meant no harm.
"No, no, it’s not that. Actually… I was wondering if you could hear a favour of mine."
"…A favour? What is it?"
When Hazeline asked back bluntly, he roughly explained to her the rules of the Hunters and raised the issue of the ‘Society’. It was a favour of borrowing her name for the Society’s registration.
"…Oh. Well… it’s fine. By the way, is it okay if I used a different name?"
"A different name?"
"Yes. If it’s a Society, then it’d be better as a Wizard rather than as an alchemist, I think."
Sae-Jin was slightly dazed by the suggestion, but then, he remembered the sight of Hazeline in that news broadcast, so he quickly nodded his head.
"Yes, yes. Of course."
After Hazeline left, the lone Sae-Jin called a certain someone. He checked the time with the corner of his eyes - a bit past 1 PM. The training camp was still ongoing, but he figured that she might pick up her phone since it was during the lunch break.
Before the end of the third ring, her voice came out from the receiver.
"Uh, it’s me, Sae-Jin."
– "I know. Is there something wrong?"
"Well, there’s a thing…."
He trimmed the story as much as possible in consideration for the busy Yu Sae-Jung and explained that he wanted to form a ‘Society’ but needed a minimum of three people, so whether it was possible for her to lend her name for the registration or not…
– "Okay, I will."
"Ah. Thanks a bunch."
– "No, it’s alright. Actually, I was also planning to enter a Society as soon as the training camp ends here. One of the listed things to do is to achieve cooperation, so it’s me who’s thankful right now.
"Well, that’s a relief. Someone will probably call you later on, so you just have to say that you agree to form the Society with me."
And with that, he prepared to end the call. But before he could do that, Yu Sae-Jung’s voice hurriedly exited the receiver.
– "W, w,wait a moment, please."
– "All the stuff that’s been happening in Eden, aren’t you curious?"
She asked him in the tone of a voice that was pleading with him to show some interest. Sae-Jin was obviously not too interested, but he was grateful for her granting him the favour without much fuss, so replied "Yeah, I am".
– "The 1st test was about the physical fitness training. But it’s not like the normal fitness training as I expected it to be. They made us do a tug of war while subjecting us under the magic spells affecting our minds… Really, my head was…. My soul escaped me…"
He honestly believed a few minutes would be sufficient. But that few minutes steadily stretched past the 5 minute mark, then 10, and finally, 20 minutes.
Until the voice of whom Sae-Jin thought of as an instructor called out to her, Yu Sae-Jung tried to explain every minute detail of every little event that had occurred in Eden over the phone.
‘She’s a chatterbox, alright…’ (TL: I had to change here as the author wrote "she’s an explaining bug." Huh.)
– "Oh, I need to go now."
"Okay. Work hard."
– "I will. Thanks. Talk to you later."
"Here it is."
It was a quiet morning. A man came in and submitted a Society registration form and left. The employee who had just arrived at work, yawned out loudly and leisurely scanned the form.
However, the written contents were a bit strange. It seemed like a bit of typo, or maybe even some error, was mixed in there…
The worker tilted his head a bit, before calling the number on the form. He was pretty sure that this was either a prank or a mistake.
"…Ah, hello. By perchance, am I speaking to Miss Shena? The A ranked Wizard, Shena? Miss? You’re not her, yes?"
– "Huh? No, I am Shena. Why did you call me?"
In that moment, the worker forgot to breathe.
Why was an A level Wizard participating in a Society with a Mid Tier Hunter serving as a leader….? This made no sense. He was still convinced that he was being pranked right now….
"That is… I have called you… because a Society registration… Surely, it’s not true?"
– "What’s not true? I did sign the form and even stamped it as well."
"No, that is… This… that, Miss Shena is participating in such a Society is…"
– "Well, yes, it’s true. I’ve decided to participate. I am going to hang up now since I’m really busy here. But I am a member of the Society for real."
The call ended. The worker’s mouth remained wide open, as he tried to recall what he had just heard over the phone. But no matter what, he could not understand.
However, there was still one more thing left on the form for the worker to remain dumbfounded like that. Of course, even this one was also totally unbelievable.
‘Yu Sae-Jung, a low Mid Tier Knight of the Dawn Knights Order.’
The precious royalty of the Dawn was a member of a Society with a measly Hunter as the leader? The worker’s hands shook visibly as he keyed in the phone number.
"Ah, by any chance… are you Miss Yu Sae-Jung, affiliated with the Dawn Knights Order?"
– "Yes, that’s correct."
Again, the worker forgot to breathe. He had a case of a déjà vu.
"The Society… is that correct? The Society."
He was so shocked, he couldn’t even form a proper sentence. But as expected, Yu Sae-Jung could understand what he was saying, even though the worker’s words sounded half-a*sed.
– "Yes, I am participating. You’re talking about the Society with Mister Kim Sae-Jin serving as the leader, yes?"
"…..Eh? Ah, yes. The Mid Tier Hunter…. Kim Sae-Jin. Yes."
– "Then, yes, that’s correct. Please register my name on the system. And there will be a call from the Dawn Knights Order shortly as well."
With that, the phone call came to an end.
…The worker’s soul also left him at the same moment.
The worker recovered slightly and recalled the conversations he held with the real big shots three minutes ago, then fell into a deep but dazed contemplation. For personal connections of a Mid Tier Hunter…. they couldn’t be explained away at all.
< 10. The Quickening (3) > Fin.